As my departure date starts to creep up closer and closer, the thought of studying abroad during my senior year of college really makes me experience mixed emotions. Traveling and studying abroad has always been my dream, but at the same time it is my last year of my undergraduate college career. As I look on my Snapchat and Instagram, I see all my peers slowly starting to reunite and toast to our last year. Of course, I get a knot in my stomach and feel like I am missing out, but I can’t let that hold me back from a once in a lifetime opportunity. What comforts me when I start to have doubts about if studying abroad was the right decision, I think back to those two workshops before the end of the semester. When I think about what was discussed during those sessions, I feel a sense of relief and know that what I am feeling is natural. But, I can’t let my feelings take over and ruin my study abroad experience.
A lot of topics that were discussed that weekend resonated with me, and I think back on it even today. The separation phase of the Rites of Passage is so important in the whole study abroad process, and it is one I do not want to prevent myself from having. I am so comfortable where I am at in life, but I don’t want to be comfortable. I want challenges and adventure and a new environment. To say the least, I’m bored. I’m bored with my every day routine and even my roommates to be honest. I have been doing the same thing at Quinnipiac for three years now, and part of me is fine with it, but another part of me needs that change. I have been in a relationship with a boy at college for almost three years, I’ve had the same roommates for just as long, and I have been hiking the same mountain and going out to the same bars. Safe to say, I have my habits. Separating from those habits is so important, and I need to open myself up to change. Although, as discussed in the workshops, we as humans feel weak when we try to leave what we know and our habits behind, but what truly makes us strong is to let go of some of them and reinvent ourselves. Letting go of habits doesn’t have to be permanent, but to take a break from them and experience new things is crucial in order to fully immerse yourself in a new place.
In “Becoming World Wise”, Slimbach discusses topics that pertain to Rites of Passage. One major part to Rites of Passage is the separation phase. I feel like that’s the phase we try to most prepare ourselves for and are aware that we have to do. In this book, Slimbach seems prepared to leap into the Vietnamese culture and the people. He is eager to see the way they live, but when he gets there, they’re watching TV shows that us American’s watch on a daily basis. On page 2 he says, “… cultural conversion has led some to question what relevance educational travel might have when the rest of the world appears to be just a reflection of ourselves.” When I have prepared to separate from my daily routine, I keep thinking it is going to be this huge transformation from my normal life and that everything is going to be different. In reality, everyone in the world is alike in some way and separating from home might not have to be as difficult as I have it in my head. On page 6 it also says, “When we do something with others – live with them, work or study alongside them – we become something together.” This reminds me of the liminality phase where we’re between what we used to be and what we are becoming. In this moment is where we our old habits with the ones we picked up from the people around us. We are learning and experimenting with our new surroundings and people from all over the country. This is how we are able to successfully go through liminality.
Australia is one of those places that everyone dreams of visiting, yet rarely many people do. Australia is so far away that to me it seems so mysterious. It has some of the most amazing sights, beaches and animals. Whenever I tell somebody I am studying abroad there, they always say how jealous they are because it’s that one part of the world that just seems so much cooler compared to others (no offense). When I was younger, I honestly forgot Australia was really a place since it’s on the other side of the world. Now, I associate it with all of its beautiful views and adventure. It’s the one place in this world I can’t wait to get to know all about. Since I want to learn about Australia in every aspect from its landscape to its people to its deadly animals many people have already warned me about, I want to hear about it from one of the best travel authors. For this reason, I chose Bill Bryson’s “Sunburned Country”, which discusses all of Australia, not just the places everybody knows of. I hope after reading about Australia in this book and experiencing it all first hand, I come back having immersed myself in this amazing place as much as possible.